Controlling Your Car with Gestures? Google Files Patent to Make it Possible

An image from Google’s patent filing for gesture-based automotive controls. Image courtesy of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

It’s the stuff of sci-fi movies and one greatly exaggerated forensics show. And now, it may be headed to your car’s dashboard.

Every time you watch an episode of Fox’ Bones and see Angela (Michaela Conlin) swish her hot little hands around in the air, doing her craniofacial reconstruction thing on her giant 3D “Angelatron” hologram machine, you know you secretly wish you could have one in your living room/man cave/ garage. Well, that particular fantasy may just be a little closer than you think. Not only is the Angelatron based on existing technology (including one similar massive machine used to forecast hurricanes) but Google is aiming to bring gesture-controlled features right to your car’s dashboard.

The search engine giant recently filed for a patent on gesture-based car controls that soon may allow you to down your windows, adjust your AC vents and blast your radio just by making like the Karate Kid in your front seat. Okay, so you won’t get the giant hologram (though Toyota’s Fun-Vii concept car says that’s a distinct possibility, too). Still, this is cool stuff.

If the technology ever makes it into production vehicles, systems would use depth cameras mounted on a car’s roof and equipped with a laser scanner that identifies and interprets a driver’s gestures, then activates various auto features accordingly. Of course, a few detractors are concerned about the unintended consequences of misinterpreted gestures. Say, perhaps, you flip off a fellow driver in a moment of indignant frustration, intending only to let your disapproval be known. And suddenly, your trunk pops open. Well… that’s awkward.

“Don’t get frisky with your date on a late night after the bar,” posted one critic on a recent Engadget online article. “You’ll have the windows rolling up and down, and the radio scanning through stations.”

And considering the continued push toward integrating your driving experience with your social media presence, heaven forbid you pick your nose and end up with a photo auto-posted to Facebook. We’re just wondering what collection of gestures it would take to change your spark plugs.

Anyway, what do you think, E3 Spark Plugs fans? Would you drive a gesture-controlled car? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.


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